The Teen Brain

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What Makes Teens Tick. While we stopped in Birkenhead Point Marina to do groceries, I bought a Time( May 10th, 2004, #18, AUS edition pg. 46-53) magazine. Inside there was an article about the teen brain. In this report I have summarized this article, and added some ideas of my own.

Here I am, just a month past the peak of my brain density, the time when learning is easiest, so why should I write this? Because I still need to exercise the parts of my brain that I need later. I “need” my organizational skills, so I “had” to write an outline for this. After 11 in girls and 12.5 in boys, gray matter ( which is basically neurons and branching dendrites) thins, and the pruning process begins. Neurons that aren't used a lot die, while the ones that are being used, like language, are being strengthened. Soon white matter takes over from the gray matter. White matter is a fatty myelin sheath that encases nerve connections. White matter makes transmissions quicker in the exercised areas. So if you constantly us your math skills, when you are older it will still be easy for you to do math. Math becomes easier as you learn it because the section that houses math skills is in good shape, so for some reason they make the math harder as you learn. (Why is the western world bent on doing everything the hard way!!!!!) Once you have learned a second language, it is easier to learn a third because you have exercised the language part of the brain. Playing the piano strengthens the connections which control finger movements. Because of this I have a theory that people that have played piano can touch-type better than non-piano players. But if you don't exercise a certain area, it becomes harder and harder to relearn that. Lastly, when you get older it becomes harder for your brain to overcome trauma. This may be why adults are more cautious. It might also explain overprotective parents and why they tell their kids not to jump from high places or do dangerous sports. Because they can't do it because their brain can't recover from trauma as well anymore, so they might think it applies to their kids to.

Teenagers still need to be stimulated and guided beyond the traditional age of twelve, and modern day parents who were brought up believing in the traditional way of looking at development need to realize this.

Encouraging sports is one way in which parents can still .... as they are very important for the further development of the brain. Baseball and Tennis might help coordinate mental and physical activities. Both sports require lots of mental-physical coordination. See the ball, hit the ball. These sports exercise the cerebellum, which coordinates Mental-Physical activities. Exercising this part of the brain might improve reflexes and reduce clumsiness rating from “Elephant in a china store” to “Elephant in tutu”. The cerebellum is the part of the brain that houses higher maths and physics as well music and social skills. The cerebellum is the only part of the brain that continues growing into the twenties. The cerebellum is located in the back of the brain. Your brain develops from back to front to back, so the cerebellum is one of the first to mature, and the Prefrontal Cortex is the last. Basically during the teenage years, the body is a boat without a good skipper.

In the US you have to be 16 to drive and 21 to drink. In Australia you have to be 16 to drive and 18 to drink. Before I read this article I really didn't care, as long as I could drive around 16. Now I still don't care about the drinking, but if this gets in the hands of any government officials DON'T CHANGE THE DRIVING AGE!!! I know the article says that it is safest to drive when the brain is 25, when the brain is fully mature (at least that's what the scientists say) but I would hate to say it changed.

However, according to the article, if you put a teenager and an adult in a simulation, both will both play it safe and stop at a yellow light. But put the teenager in a car with some friends, he starts to take risks, so he might run it. This is due to an immature prefrontal Cortex, the part of the brain that weighs the consequences of you actions. It also controls: planning, setting priorities,organizing thoughts, and suppressing impulses. An immature Prefrontal Cortex equals quick rash decisions, which is common in teens. This combined with “Hormones” (Hormones were traditionally blamed for the actions of teens), is what produce the teens that you most commonly hear of. You know, the emotional, trying to be independent ones you see in movies. The violence comes from it being hard for teenagers to read emotions correctly. They see anger where there is none, combine this with their quick decisions and you get a teen

The most important things that teens need is love and good guidance. Many parents believe that after twelve there is nothing more they can do, that the kids are who they are and outside of their influence. Wrong! This is the most important time to guide them. Don't be afraid to pour on the love, as long as you don't embarrass them in front of their friends!

The Brain

General

The Brain is located in the head, and controls your body. It is part of the human nervous system, and controls the body through the nervous system. The brain is one of the heaviest organ in the body (the liver being the heaviest), weighing around 1.4 kg (3 lb). The brain is protected by Meninges, a “skin” with three layers. The brain has two sides, the left and right. Although they both look the same, each side is charged with a different task. The left controls your logical thinking, so when you see this: abx + b = c-d, it is your left side of the brain which works on it. The right side of the brain is your creative side. Artists use their right side the most, as it is imperative top their work. The Thalamus, a part of the brain at the top of the brain stem, tells your mind that you are hurt, but a different part tells us where. The Pituitary glad controls your growth, and your hormones. If it worked overtime from the moment you were born, you would be around 8 feet tall when you stopped growing. The brain is protected, nourished, and suspended in Cerebrospinal fluid. Without our brains, we cannot breathe, think, and out hearts wouldn't beat. If you don't have a brain, all you would be is a lifeless hulk of skin and guts. The three main sections in the brain are the Lobe, The Brain Stem, and The Cerebellum.

Parts of the Brain Especially Associated With Teens

Prefrontal Cortex is situated in the Lobe.

The Prefrontal Cortex

The Prefrontal Cortex is known as the CEO of the brain. It main function is that of reasoning. This is another reason why teens act impulsively. The last part of the brain to develop is the one that reasons.

The Corpus Callosum, Basal Ganglia, and Amygdala are in the Brain Stem.

The Corpus Callosum

The Corpus Callosum is thought to have a hand in problem solving. During adolescence, the nerve fibers thicken and process information more efficiently over time.

The Basil Ganglia

This part of the brain acts as the secretary to the Prefrontal Cortex. It is larger in Females the males.

The Amygdala

This is the emotional center of the brain. As the Prefrontal Cortex in teens is still undeveloped, they rely more on the Amygdala than adults, making their quick tempers.

The Cerebellum

The Cerebellum is thought to play a role in physical coordination. As this changes rapidly in the teen years, it leaves the Prefrontal Cortex behind. As I said earlier, a ship without a skipper. Physical coordination without the mental coordination.